Info on PICA

I was wondering if you had any information regarding an odd condition known as PICA (extremely low iron). The child is 4 yrs. old and suffering from this odd problem.

  • What are the signs?
  • How does it occur?
  • How many others are afflicted?
  • Solutions and prognosis?

Any information regarding this would be helpful

Thanks for your time


Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Carol,

Human pica refers to the persistent ingestion of unsuitable substances that have little, if any, nutritional value. Such substances have included ice, hair, stone, charcoal, mothballs, antacid tablets, baking soda, coffee grounds and cigarette ashes.

Pica is not new, nor limited to any culture, race, sex, or socio economic background, although it is most often associated with pregnant women. Some pica substances interfere with the absorption of certain minerals such as iron- - - which can lead to very low iron (i.e. anemia). The etiology of pica is not well understood.

This child needs to see a pediatrician or clinical dietitian for help. He will need a complete diet analysis to identify nutritional deficiencies and behavioral/medical help in learning to eliminate the pica substances.

Thank you for writing.

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